MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The 2017 Maplewood Ideas Festival begins on March 18, and continues through April 1. According to the Maplewood Memorial Library’s official press release, all programs are free and open to the public. The purpose of the festival is to celebrate “the talent and creativity” in the community, the release stated.

The Ideas Festival begins on Saturday, March 18, at 2 p.m. at The Woodland (60 Woodland Rd.), with Khalil Gibran Muhammad in conversation with Angie Thomas. Muhammad is a professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Muhammad is a resident of South Orange, and a South Mountain School and Columbia High School parent.

Thomas is the author of the new novel “The Hate U Give” which has already been optioned for a major motion picture, according to the release.

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The 2017 Ideas Festival concludes with the 4th Annual Maplewood Literary Award, which will be presented to Pamela Erens at 2 p.m. in the Main Library. Erens is the author of “Eleven Hours,” “The Virgins” and “The Understory.” She will be interviewed by library director Sarah Lester and a book signing will follow.

Other events of the Ideas Festival include:

MARCH 20

On Monday, March 20, at 7 p.m. in the Maplewood Main Library, Frank Rimalovski, Executive Director of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, will talk about how ideas are developed and the process of seeing them through to fruition. Rimalovski leads an initiative to spur and support entrepreneurship and technology commercialization, and directs a seed-stage venture fund formed to invest exclusively in startups, according to the library’s releaseMARCH 23

The festival will host Maplewood stage and screen actor Joel de la Fuente on Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. in the Main Library. His most recent roles have been in the films “The Man in the High Castle” and “Hemlock Grove.”

MARCH 25

Saturday, March 25 will be New Jersey Makers Day. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilton Branch Library (1688 Springfield Ave.), withspace, technology, and maker projects for kids, teens and adults. Available activities will include creating moon craters in a kinetic sand landscape or with 3D software, watching a battling robot demo, and creating balloon-powered vehicles, among other recreational activities.

MARCH 25

Also on Saturday, March 25, Ideas Festival artist Samar Hussaini will lead the Arts and Music Reception at 3 p.m. in the Main Library. Hussaini is an Arab American fine artist and graphic designer who “seeks to visualize the layered challenges and enriching distinction of being a Palestinian-American while striving to create thought-provoking ideas of dialogue and hope,” the library’s release stated. Live music will also be provided by Columbia High School’s a cappella group, “Unaccompanied Minors.”

MARCH 28

On Tuesday, March 28, at 4 p.m. in the Main Library, Children’s author Holly McGhee will talk about her newest book, “Matylda, Bright & Tender.” According to the library’s release, the story is about creating “art in the face of great challenges.” The event is for ages eight and up.

Continuing on Wednesday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in the Main Library, architects Jennifer Sage and Peter Coombe of Sage & Coombe Architects, will discuss the big thinking and practical details of what makes a 21st century library.

MARCH 30

On Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. in Main Library, the festival will feature Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Hogue organizes and mobilizes “grassroots support around social-justice issues, including human rights, media reform and representation, and reproductive freedom,” the library’s release stated.

The Ideas Festival is funded by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts (supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts), The Friends of the Maplewood Library, The Maplewood Library Foundation, The Maplewood Woman’s Club and [words] Bookstore.